Taiwanese class at Shi-Da

Today I had my first Taiwanese language class at Shi-Da. Shi-Da offers the class as one of the cultural classes. They also have classes in calligraphy, name chop engraving and a few others. 

I have made sporadic efforts at studying Taiwanese but so far I haven't got beyond learning a few of the most common words and phrases. However, I think the language is important and useful and it is something that I really want to learn.

The teacher is Xiao Laoshi (蕭老師). She has a Master's Degree in Teaching Southern Min Dialect as a Second Language. As far as I know she is the only specialist Taiwanese language teacher at Shi-Da. She is very enthusiastic and I like her teaching style.

The first class used Xiao Laoshi's own materials. The class mainly covered phonetics. The Peh-oe-ji (POJ) romanisation system was used. POJ is sometimes referred to as Church Romanisation because it was originally invented by Presbyterian missionaries. The teacher commented  indirectly that she uses this system because it is the most well known. There are other systems but they are not in common use.

A few of the students in the class already knew a little Taiwanese. Others knew none at all. There was quite a bit of material covered. As well as the phonetics we also learnt a simple conversation. For the complete beginners it might have been a bit overwhelming.

My only complaint is that the class is only once per week. I think it is disappointing that Taiwan's largest Chinese language school cannot offer more classes in Taiwanese.

I will write some more about the class and the Taiwanese language over the next couple of months.

16 thoughts on “Taiwanese class at Shi-Da

  1. If I don’t badly remember FJU Language Center 輔大語言中心 also offers Taiwanese classes, the teacher is 張京玫, I heard she is really good teaching Taiwanese. 🙂

    See Ya

  2. Hi David!

    Great, you will have soo much fun at class! Xiao Laoshi is my teacher since the beginning and her teaching style is just fantastic!

    Bye, Sebastian

  3. Wow, you’re a busy guy! I’ve recently taken an interest in picking up some Taiwanese, too. I’ll be interested to see if you come across any good online resources, although I know they are few and far between. Good luck!

  4. This is really interesting. I had wanted to take that class myself when I was at Shida, but they didn’t even offer it that semester!

    How many hours is the class?

  5. Mark, it’s only two hours a week. Not enough really. I would love to take a full-time Taiwanese class if Shi-Da offered one.

  6. Kudos to you for taking Taiwanese! I often lament that it is an unpopular and dying language. 🙁 Thank you David for helping keep it alive.

  7. I don’t think my limited efforts to learn the language will do much to save it. The most important thing is for the language to be given a more important place in Taiwan’s education system and for more people to become literate in the language (hopefully using romanisation!).

    The language is hardly unpopular. Hokkien/Minnan is spoken by about 50 million people in Taiwan, China and various parts of Southeast Asia.

  8. That is very encouraging to hear. People always ask me if I’m from Singapore because I speak Taiwanese fluently. But when I ask my friends in Singapore what proportion of the population there speaks Hokkien, they say it’s the older folks- the younger generation tends to speak Mandarin. That was a real bummer, because this language is very dear to me.

    You are right the language could benefit from a more prominent place in the education system. However, I don’t think that is possible due to current politics. Thanks for talking about this on your blog though. I didn’t even know Taiwanese was being formally taught!

  9. Pingback: Daily Links - July 4th, 2006 | bent

  10. I guess the issue is that while the language would benefit from a more prominent place in the educational system, the educational system wouldn’t necessarily benefit from giving the language a more prominent place. Like it or not, Mandarin is the most spoken language in the world, and that’s the language that students will benefit from, here or in Singapore. More instruction in English, the uncontested second language of choice the world over, will probably help students more than spending that time on Minnanhua would.

    Politics is about the only thing that could propel Taiwanese to a more prominent position in the schools.

  11. I’m quite jealous! I wish the PRC would get over their “everyone has to speak Mandarin and Mandarin only!” mindset and allow universities to offer dialect courses. I would love studying Shanghainese while I’m living in the city.

  12. Mark, I understand that from an educational viewpoint choices about what languages should be taught and when are very important. I still think a place can be found for Taiwanese without having negative outcomes.

    As for politics, perhaps if the issue were less politicised some good policies and programs could be put in place. For all its Hoklo rhetoric I don’t think the DPP has really achieved as much as it could have.

  13. Nice! I was going to take that class. I hadn’t realized it had already started. In fact, I have been very much out of the loop on what ShiDa offers its students. I just saw the posters advertising the Turtle Island and Kenting trips. Definitely want to do one of those, but I could have easily never known about it!

    I need to pay more attention to those bulletin boards. I’ve been spoiled by the email-bulletins my school back home employs…

Comments are closed.